LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Ahmanson Foundation is suspending its 60-year funding relationship with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) pending a clear understanding of how the works acquired over that time at a cost of more than $130 million will be displayed in the proposed new building. Over the past few years Ahmanson has sought information about future display plans from LACMA. The museum has chosen to not address these concerns. If an understanding is not met, the suspension will become permanent and The Ahmanson Foundation may need to deepen its relationship with other museums if art acquisition is to remain a funding interest.
It’s a regretful end to a trusted partnership where the Foundation worked closely with museum curators to acquire 114 European Old Master paintings and 15 sculptures, including one of the museum’s crown jewels, Georges de La Tour’s, The Magdalen with the Smoking Flame. The Foundation’s giving history with LACMA was guided by the museum’s mission and expressed commitment to build a world class encyclopedic museum to be enjoyed by the public at the Wilshire location.
Despite public outcry, the existing buildings where the permanent collections have been shown are scheduled to be razed for a new building designed by Peter Zumthor. The new one-story building will replace three multi-story buildings and will have less square footage and less space for LACMA’s expansive permanent collection, including European Old Master’s. Without space to exhibit existing works, collection growth will be limited as well. The Ahmanson Foundation believes past commitments have been breached.
In 2006, Michael Govan, who had just been appointed LACMA’s director, made assurances to the foundation that if a new building were to be built “the Ahmanson Collection will be displayed with equal, and likely much better, space and galleries than today...” Govan has yet to divulge how much of the collection purchased or donated with Ahmanson assistance will be on view in the new museum and has yet to provide the Foundation with any confirmation or promise for the collection’s future display.
William Ahmanson, President of The Ahmanson Foundation, said, “It is with great sadness and much contemplation that the Foundation decided to suspend LACMA. In January 2019, we denied a purchase request because we could not resolve the issue of when or if the painting would ever be displayed.” In a 60-year history of giving, this was the first denial. Over the years The Ahmanson Foundation purchased at least one work a year. The last work acquired with funds from the Foundation was January 2017, Alessandro Algardi’s Baptism of Christ for $2,500,000.
The Foundation’s greatest concern is that the public will have limited or no access to works carefully curated and collected over decades and that these works will be removed from the Wilshire Boulevard site which was championed by The Ahmanson Foundation founder Howard F. Ahmanson Sr.
For more information about Ahmanson gifts of European art, visit www.lacma.org/publications to view the 3-volume electronic catalog.
THE AHMANSON FOUNDATION
The Ahmanson Foundation serves Los Angeles County by funding projects in the arts and humanities, education at all levels, health care, programs related to homelessness and underserved populations
as well as a wide range of human services. By supporting non-profit organizations that demonstrate sound fiscal management, efficient operation, and program integrity, the Foundation strives to enhance the quality of life and cultural legacy of the Los Angeles community